Masking \ Unmasking – Poem by Santosh Bakaya

I sat on the patio looking around, unmasked,
asking myself myriad questions,
basking in little magical moments, multi-tasking.
Beguiled by a squirrel scurrying along, a robin singing a song,
a lapwing delicately maneuvering its way
across the rain-drenched ground- a fashionista self-styled.

The sky had a well-scrubbed look,
the rain had played its role well,
making the weather heart- burstingly beautiful,
generously wiping the sky of all traces of grime and dust.
Had the artist up there intuited my thoughts?
The invisible painter picking up the paintbrush,
from nature’s palette was choosing achingly beautiful hues,
making my thoughts beautiful too.

They whirled and swirled in my mind.
In life’s unpredictable seas, unkind
will I succeed in surfing the waves
dodging formidable sharks on the way,
or will the nerve-wracking balancing act
sway me off my path?
Will, I forever sit on patios fronting verdant lawns
as the beautiful dawn nudges a cloud out of the way
to admire me gorging on buttered toast with hot cups of tea?
As I munched on a buttered toast, the face of a skinny child
I had seen a day back in his mother’s skeletal arms
superimposed itself on my thoughts, lo and behold, nature’s mood changed!
The sun parted the cloudy curtains,
looking down in derision as humanity plodded forth,
spindly legs supporting mammoth egos.  
I quickly gulped down the dregs of tea,
hastily put my mask back in place,
and sanitized my mind.
Scrubbing – scrubbing – scrubbing clean
a guilty conscience. Drubbing it into silence. 
Never on the wrong foot caught,
I was now safe from any ugly assault.
No undernourished child would dare to come between me
and my buttered toast and tea.
I needed my nourishment and had to strengthen my immunity!  

// This poem has been penned by Santosh Bakaya who was declared the Runner-Up of the first poetry slam event (A Rhythmic Affair) conducted by Beyond the Box for adults. //

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